For the first time in the history of independent Belarus, the French President visited Minsk on 11 and 12 February 2015 (within the framework of negotiations for the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements, regarding the conflict in eastern Ukraine). Since 2014, and following a gradual warming of relations between the European Union and Belarus, political contact has been stepped up between France and Belarus. This is proof of positive momentum in our bilateral relations from the political, economic, cultural and parliamentary perspectives, as illustrated by the resumption of high-level political visits and meetings, including a visit by the Minister of State attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs to Minsk in October 2018, within the framework of the third Mixed Economic Commission.
In 2018, the volume of trade between France and Belarus fell compared with 2017 (down 8.4% to €184.7 million). This drop in trade is due to a fall in exports (down 12% to €131 million) while imports have stagnated. France is Belarus’ 11th-largest supplier but its market share remains low (0.9% in 2017).
Bilateral cultural cooperation has two main focuses: the promotion of the French language and academic cooperation. With 383 Belarusian students enrolled in French higher education establishments for the 2017-2018 academic year, France receives the eighth-highest number of Belarusian students. The main tool for student cooperation between France and Belarus is the French-Belarusian Centre for European Studies (CFB), which offers a delocalized University of Bordeaux degree course in French. This course earns Belarusian students a university diploma in political science and European studies and a first-year French Master’s degree in European Laws.
French is mainly taught in Belarus through a network of French-speaking bilingual sections established in 1997, offering a bilingual four-year course through to the end of high school. The network is comprised of eight establishments, of which seven are outside the capital. The Embassy of France in Belarus also offers students French language certification and classes at the CFB. The promotion and dissemination of Francophonie in Belarus has been supported since 1996 by the French Media Library in Minsk and its network of ten French information offices and reading rooms throughout the territory.